Case Study: Northampton Saints 

Working with high performance teams.

Look, listen and learn from Simon Harmer; whose tense, funny inspiring speech captured our attention. His life-changing events put all our lives into perspective and inspire us to always wake up with a smile and take on anything that is thrown our way. He is a man of his word.

Jim Mallinder, Former Director of Rugby Northampton Saints


I spoke to the Northampton Saints Rugby Club at a time when team needed perspective, clarity and a little motivation.

We covered the following topics.

  • Dealing with fear.
  • The effects of long term injuries.
  • Over coming set backs.
  • Future proofing career.

I was invited to speak with the Northampton Saints first team and their coaching staff at the end of the Six Nations competition. The club were dealing with some poor results on the pitch and where looking to improve their performance before the season concluded. I was given free reign on topic, but I identified some areas which I knew would be useful.

  • Dealing with fear: I have always thought that there are some clear similarities between members of a rugby team and members of the Armed Forces. As a soldier I had to deal with fear on a number of occasions. I had to learn to compartmentalise what I was feeling, knowledge the emotion and carry on with what ever my  task was at the time. I experienced the fear of failure a number of times, the idea that I wouldn’t be able to perform my job, both as a medic and soldier. I had to put my trust in what I had learned and my own abilities.
  • The effects of long term injuries: Every time a rugby player steps on the pitch, it could be the last game they ever play. This is a topic which every Saints player already knows. Saints captain, Rob Horne was injured during the local derby with Leicester Tigers on 14th April 2018. 13 seconds into the game, his career was ended after tackling another player. I spoke about this from my perspective and how I dealt with my career coming to an end.
  • Over coming setbacks: Though out my recovery I had to deal with setbacks of one kind or another. Sometimes these were planned where I would have surgery to rectify a problem. One of my surgeon’s explained it as ‘dropping down a short snake to climber a longer ladder’ I knew what we were trying to achieve had a long term benefit. How do you plan for an unexpected setback? I explained that the Armed Forces train in such away that if there are setbacks, a good plan mitigate those issues.
  • Future proofing career: One of the topics which I personally think both groups do not put much emphasis on. I spoke about my resettlement and how it didn’t really set me up for leaving the forces and the fact that I had not done much in the way of planning my on exit from the army before my injury. Fortunately, I had a long run up to my discharge date and made good use of the time I had before leaving.

I loved Simon’s talk there were no airs and graces; he cut straight to the point with great humour and humility. He captured the attention of the audience from his first word. I would absolutely recommend Simon to anyone looking for a motivational speaker.

I saw Simon present at a Corporate event recently. He hit a really good balance between sharing his emotionally powerful story and making it relevant to the business audience. I would recommend working with him in future.

Former Olympic RowerGreg Searle MBE, Former GB Olympic Rower

I had the great pleasure of listening to Simon speak recently and from his very first sentence he set the record straight about how experiencing the unthinkable opened up a whole new world for him. Not looking for sympathy or pity, he told his tragic story with humour and such honesty that only someone with such a positive personality and inner strength could achieve. Being able to take people temporarily out of their own lives and then give them a real insight into someone else’s life on the front line I would imagine is a tough skill to achieve, but he did it and furthermore did it very well.

Former England Rugby PlayerLeon Lloyd , Former England Rugby Player

I have had the chance to meet Simon whilst attending the General Counsel Summit in Davos, Switzerland, back in February this year. His presentation, his words and his attitude will remain an inspiration for a while! Simon and his family have been through lifetime experiences that help you put in perspective a lot of your (and your employer’s) issues in perspective. Funny, contagiously positive, bringing Simon into one of your seminars will likely inspire your attendance and remain a highlight of your offerings! I wish Simon, his lovely wife and their children much happiness and a very successful “new” career for Simon! Thank you!!

Associate General CounselJoanne Fischlin , Associate General Counsel

I highly recommend Simon Harmer and his motivational talks that he gives. He came to my office and hosted a full house in which he talked movingly but also with humour and poise about his experiences, how he over-came the challenges he faced and what lessons for life he took away. I and my colleagues found the experience extremely relevant as we are all faced with adversity at times, and knowing how Simon pulled through his own experinces can really help people deal with their own issues. I will be looking to invite Simon back in the future to speak to the new recruits. Being that I work in the defence sector I also think it is particularly advantageous to our non-military colleagues to meet Simon and understand what motivated him to join up, to serve and ultimately to make significant sacrifice.

Tom Auld , Business Development Manager at Altran UK

I had the honour of meeting Simon when he came as our guest speaker to a customer event. His blend of humour and positivity is awe-inspiring when he talks you through this incredible story. Following traumatic life changing injuries he has gone to rebuild his life and listening to him will help put things back into perspective when you think you are having a bad day! I would highly recommend anyone looking for an exceptional guess speaker to look no further.

Joe Pincus, Business Development Director, Telent Technology Services Ltd.

We as rugby players put our bodies on the line each weekend for our club. To hear testimony from a man who put his body on the line, literally, for our country was nothing short of humbling.

Christian Day, Former Northampton Saints Rugby Player

You can see why Saints wanted to hear from Simon Harmer. He tells his story with astonishing clarity and understanding and without a shred of self-pity. He’s an extraordinary example of someone who has not allowed what happened to him to ruin his life. On the contrary, there’s almost a sense that it was a good thing – or at least that’s what he’s turned it into. He’s made of very stern stuff and you can’t help but come away from meeting him with a sense that life is a precious thing which needs to be enjoyed.

Graham McKechnie , Sports Editor, BBC Radio Northampton

Look, listen and learn from Simon Harmer; whose tense, funny inspiring speech captured our attention. His life-changing events put all our lives into perspective and inspire us to always wake up with a smile and take on anything that is thrown our way. He is a man of his word.

Jim Mallinder , Former Director of Rugby Northampton Saints

Simon delivered a truly amazing and inspirational talk at our TEDxRoyalTunbridgeWells event on 4 June 2016, that captured the complete attention of the audience, and one that I will never forget. His outlook on life is extraordinary, he is a hero in every sense of the word. I couldn’t hold anyone in higher regard. Thank you Simon.

Nick Adams, TEDx Royal Tunbridge Wells

Working with Simon is a real pleasure. I have worked with Simon on several events for The Drive Project where Simon has given an inspirational talk. He is always inspiring, articulate and engaging from start to finish.
Simon’s approach to work is very creative, he is always suggesting new and different ideas, this makes him a delight to work with.
I can’t recommend Simon highly enough as a motivational speaker and also a member of any team.

I had the pleasure of working with Simon during my time as a PR and Communications Officer at Help for Heroes. In his role as a Volunteer Ambassador for the charity, Simon never ceased to amaze and motivate all those he came into contact with, whether face to face during public speaking or on camera dealing with national media.

Simon has an incredible ability to level with those he meets, bringing humour to his life experiences and instantly making people feel instantly at ease with his life changing injuries. He is a confident and talented speaker and a truly inspirational individual.